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WATCH! BE ALERT! BE ON STANDBY!
The word “Advent” means “coming” and starts with a message similar to the theme of last week’s Mass. Be ready and watch for the coming of Jesus. However, it means a little more than just coming; it conveys to us expectancy within the person waiting. This can be understood in three ways.
First, we anticipate Christ’s advent on Christmas. We go beyond the materialism of the modern world by a focus on the real meaning of the feast: God enters human existence in a totally personal way.
Second, we look forward to Jesus’ arrival in our lives through the blossoming of our faith and the insight we have as pure ‘gift’ to see God’s saving work at hand in Christ within His Word, Sacrament and Community. Thus in a mystical way we bring his body into the world through our union with him also in the communion of saints.
Finally, we speculate on the end of this universe at the conclusion of time. The universe is not self-sustaining. Eventually it will terminate in some sort of extinction. Time is finite. It will reach a culmination either in a vast cataclysm or total dissolution. Then the real universe will begin in God.
So, welcome to Year C! During Advent and Lent, the three Readings in the Liturgy of the Word are linked….see if you can see and hear the links!
ADVENT WREATH FAMILY PRAYER:
1ST Sunday. Prophets’ Candle. ( This candle is lit before the Prayer time.)
2nd Sunday. Bethlehem Candle.
3rd Sunday. Shepherds’ Candle. (Pink)
4th Sunday. Angels’ Candle.
Leader: As we gather round our Advent wreath to prepare for the lighting of the second candle, let us pray that nothing may hinder us from receiving Christ with joy…
Leader: A voice cries in the wilderness: All: Prepare a way for the Lord!
Leader: Across the desert, through the valleys, over every mountain: All: Make his paths straight!
Leader: Repent and believe the Good News: All: For the Kingdom of heaven is close at hand!
The second purple candle is now lit.
Opening Prayer : Leader:
Let us pray….
God of power and mercy,
fling wide the doors of our hearts
in welcome to the Lord,
Remove the things that hinder us from receiving Christ with joy,
so that we may share his wisdom
and become one with him
when he comes in glory
for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
THE LITURGY OF THE WORD.
It is very important for us to read God’s Word slowly and reflectively. We are not reading it just to get information or answer questions; we must enable God’s Word to enter us just like liquid polish enters timber that is thirsty for nutrition. A good rule of thumb is to have a question like this in our mind……”Lord, what are you saying to ME in your Word today? Secondly, how can my life be changed, in order to allow God’s Word to find a Home in my being? Finally, as for special Feasts, Advent and Lent, the three Readings are in a sequence which has an underlying thread running through them. In Ordinary time, the First Reading, and the Gospel are bridged…so we generally look for the link. The Second Reading is continuous, and follows on to the next Sunday.
First Reading: Baruch 5:1-9
Jerusalem, take off your dress of sorrow and distress,
put on the beauty of the glory of God for ever,
wrap the cloak of the integrity of God around you,
put the diadem of the glory of the Eternal on your head:
since God means to show your splendour to every nation under heaven,
since the name God gives you for ever will be,
‘Peace through integrity, and honour through devotedness’.
Arise, Jerusalem, stand on the heights
and turn your eyes to the east:
see your sons reassembled from west and east
at the command of the Holy One, jubilant that God has remembered them.
Though they left you on foot,
with enemies for an escort,
now God brings them back to you
like royal princes carried back in glory.
For God has decreed the flattening
of each high mountain, of the everlasting hills,
the filling of the valleys to make the ground level
so that Israel can walk in safety under the glory of God.
And the forests and every fragrant tree will provide shade
for Israel at the command of God;
for God will guide Israel in joy by the light of his glory
with his mercy and integrity for escort.
The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
(Let’s PAUSE and reflect upon this reading, and let us ask ourselves the two questions stated above. That is our PERSONAL response to the Word. This might take a few minutes, try not to rush it. The Psalm and Antiphon is the COMMUNITY response to God’s Word, a bit like a short and sweet Text Message)
Psalm: Ps 125
R. The Lord has done great things for us;
we are filled with joy.
When the Lord delivered Zion from bondage,
it seemed like a dream.
Then was our mouth filled with laughter,
on our lips there were songs. R.
The heathens themselves said:
‘What marvels the Lord worked for them!’
What marvels the Lord worked for us!
Indeed we were glad. R.
Deliver us, O Lord, from our bondage
as streams in dry land.
Those who are sowing in tears
will sing when they reap. R.
They go out, they go out, full of tears
carrying seed for the sowing:
they come back, they come back, full of song,
carrying their sheaves. R.
Second Reading: Philippians 1:3-6. 8-11
Every time I pray for all of you, I pray with joy, remembering how you have helped to spread the Good News from the day you first heard it right up to the present. I am quite certain that the One who began this good work in you will see that it is finished when the Day of Christ Jesus comes. God knows how much I miss you all, loving you as Christ Jesus loves you. My prayer is that your love for each other may increase more and more and never stop improving your knowledge and deepening your perception so that you can always recognise what is best. This will help you to become pure and blameless, and prepare you for the Day of Christ, when you will reach the perfect goodness which Jesus Christ produces in us for the glory and praise of God. The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Let’s PAUSE again after this Reading, and reflect on it like you did after the first Reading. The Community Acclamation follows and should be sung: e.g. ALLELUIA, or PRAISE TO YOU LORD JESUS CHRIST KING OF ENDLESS GLORY. When we are present at our Sunday Eucharistic Celebration, the Alleluia or Praise be to you…should always be sung. Why? It’s a bit like singing Happy Birthday! We never say it… 🙂
Gospel: Luke 3:1- 6
In the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar’s reign, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judaea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of the lands of Ituraea and Trachonitis, Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, during the pontificate of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah, in the wilderness. He went through the whole Jordan district proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the sayings of the prophet Isaiah:
A voice cries in the wilderness:
Prepare a way for the Lord,
make his paths straight.
Every valley will be filled in,
every mountain and hill be laid low,
winding ways will be straightened
and rough roads made smooth.
And all mankind shall see the salvation of God.
The Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
DEEP SEA DIVING INTO THE SCRIPTURES
If you have ever opened your eyes under water, or used a snorkel and face mask, or had the opportunity to use an aqualung, it is a very different world to explore isn’t it? I love snorkelling, and it is though the fish welcome you into their world. However, they need to be treated with respect, and one must be aware of ‘no-go’ zones especially where sharks are known to call that place, ‘home’ especially at meal times. So, this next section is going down into the Scriptures, which opens the pathway for us to be curious about The Word, and it will also develop an appetite in us to do this more often.
Focusing the Word
Key words and phrases
The word of God came to John.
All shall see the salvation of God.
Wrap the cloak of the integrity of God around you.
The Lord has done great things for us.
My prayer is that your love for each other may increase more and more.
to the point
Baruch’s prophecy of a glorious future was fulfilled when Israel returned from exile (first reading and psalm). John’s prophecy of future glory (‘all shall see the salvation of God’) is fulfilled when we return to God through repentance and forgiveness.
Connecting the Word
to the second reading
Paul’s prayer for the Philippians focuses our own Advent prayer: that we bear partnership for the gospel and increase our love for one another. And, in this way, we, like John, make known to ‘all . . . the salvation of God’.
to Catholic culture
When we hear the words ‘repentance’ and ‘forgiveness of sins’ some immediately think of confession and the Sacrament of Penance. The gospel points us to repentance and forgiveness as a way of life.
Understanding the Word
Luke uses the technical term ‘proclaiming’ to describe the preaching of John (3:3), Jesus’ preaching in the synagogues (4:44), and Jesus’ announcing ‘the good news of the Kingdom of God’ (8:1). John’s exhortations, then, are more than ordinary preaching: his ministry, like the ministry of Jesus, is a proclamation of the gospel. Moreover, his preparatory ministry fulfils Gabriel’s prediction to Zechariah (‘he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will go before the Lord in the spirit and power of Elijah’; 1:16-17) and anticipates the ministry of the disciples when the risen Jesus sends them to proclaim ‘repentance for the forgiveness of sins’ (24:47).
John is proclaiming ‘a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins’. Washing in water is both part of traditional Jewish ritual practice (see Leviticus 15) and is generally symbolic of the removal of sin. John’s baptism, however, requires that sinners change their ways. Isaiah 1:16-17 is a powerful example of the relationship between washing and a change in behaviour: ‘Wash yourselves clean! Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good’. One is purified by changing behaviour. In this way John’s baptism symbolises repentance. In next Sunday’s gospel John describes specific concrete changes in the lives of a number of different people. Repentance is real to the extent that it brings about change; such repentance is the precondition for forgiveness.
But baptism is more than an expression of repentance: it is also a ritual enactment of the good news that sin can be taken away. Forgiveness of sins reveals the mercy of God and draws the individual into an experience of salvation. But for baptism to be a saving event, a change of behaviour is necessary. John’s baptism ritualises both the repentance of the sinner and God’s forgiveness of sin.
Luke understands John’s ministry as a fulfilment of the passage from Isaiah which he quotes (Isa 40:3-5). The future coming of salvation which Isaiah had foreseen is taking place now in the ministry of John and in the coming of Jesus.
A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh
THE WRITTEN STYLE OF THE REALHOMILIE
It is my aim that I present the Homily to you in a way that you might hear me speaking.
I do not follow the strict rules of written prose as such; I use the techniques of oratory shared with me
in many Mission Sermons, and Mission Instructions by tried and true Mission Fathers,
from whom I am privileged to
have been formed in that great tradition.
St.Paul of the Cross. Pray for us.
Dear One and All,
On this the second Sunday of Advent, we hear the shout from John the Baptist…’Prepare a way for the lord, make his paths straight’. Is it like the sound of the man at the entrance to Wynyard Station, who every day shouts out the headlines…” Read all about it, people from outer space captured!” Would we really hear the man’s voice with that stunning news? Would that be enough for us to scramble among all the other people to get a copy of the newspaper? Or just saunter down to the station, keeping our wits about us, just in case we get tripped up by some person riding a scooter! Maybe the words, “people from outer space” might trip our minds, and cause us to: ’Read all about it’. Why? Perhaps it might have an impact on us!
Let’s have a look at the first Reading, and again the three readings are thematically connected during Advent. The Prophet Baruch’s proclamation is fantastic! God’s Word is so rich in content and import; and again, it is totally evergreen. It is for all seasons and ages….the faces have changed, but the message remains the same! No matter how gloomy and dark our world and it’s people can become, our God is Lord of all, over all and God’s mercy and integrity are our escort!
In the second Reading, if you listen carefully as you meditatively read it, you will hear the gentle-strength in the Apostle Paul. We cannot help but be touched by his sincere love for the fledgling Philippian Church. His pastoral letter to this community is so uplifting, isn’t it? As I suggested in last week’s realhomilie, what another example for Leaders to flesh out Pastoral letters to the Church of today, using the Pauline way as a menu………….Notice his prayer for the community…….’ Is that your love for each other may increase more and more and never stop improving your knowledge and deepening your perception, so that you can always recognize what is best……’ What a wonderful prayer for the Church as it meets Christ unexpectedly, every day.
Today’s Gospel paints a vivid picture of a man with a mission! His name is John! His message is: “Change your ways; Repent!” Does that impact on us? He quotes the Prophet Isaiah from the Old testament:” Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight!” But how was the Lord going to appear? Would he manifest himself like a meteor blazing a trail across the heavens before losing itself once again within the infinite galaxies? Would people perhaps glimpse him only for an instant before darkness closed in upon our world once again? No! For this “Word” who quietly and gently impacted our world would be born in the poverty of a stable; lying in an animal’s feeding box for his His bed. What heat there was, came from the breath of the animals, the love that nurtured Him, was from the hearts of Mary and Joseph as well as the inquisitive Shepherds, and the wise men from the East.
The Word was made flesh; Jesus the human face of the Father is the Emmanuel of Isaiah 7:14….’God is with us!’ Maybe it is the hills in our hearts, and the valleys within our being which need to be leveled, and filled in. The words of our Opening Prayer today say it all: ‘ God of power and mercy, open our hearts in welcome. Remove the things that hinder us from receiving Christ with joy, so that we may share his wisdom, and become one with him when he comes in glory…’
May we continue with our self-appraisal in this time of Advent, using the Gospel of Jesus as our Invitation and Guide. May we have a complete ‘change of heart’ so that nothing may hinder us from seeing, and receiving Jesus in one another, and in ourselves.
God Bless you, and your families, and may we never forget each other in prayer. Fr.Kev
What does it mean that we do this again?
Four weeks, four candles, ‘the people who walk in darkness” Looking for light?
What does it mean that we do this again-?
We who rush through everything who sometimes hardly notice where we are.
Having to slow ourselves enough to light one candle at a time and to understand what it is for?
What does it mean that we do this again-?
Proclaiming yet once more the One whose birth we’ve
Announced every year
As long as we can remember?
Are we such creatures of habit that we’ll keep a festival?
For no good reason?
Or can it possibly be that He keeps being born?
Probably so. Most assuredly so.
Otherwise the “again” would have no power for us.
But in our one candle hearts our ever-waiting-for-the-Christ candle hearts,
We somehow know that all the power is in the “again”.
The Word becomes flesh….and the people who walk in darkness rejoice again.
OUR FAMILY PRAYER TIME………
This is a great opportunity to gather the Family in Prayer. Having a Prayer Setting really adds to and designates this time as a ‘special’ time together. You might like to have a nice coloured cloth on a coffee table, or on the centre of the Dining Room Table. You will need a candle, Crucifix, Bible …in the opened position, even at the Gospel of the Sunday, and maybe a flower. During Easter tide you might like to place some white and gold material on your devotional altar. You might like to create your own permanent ‘sacred space’ in your home, where the Word of God is open, and a small tee light within a fire proof glass, could awaken in the minds and hearts of your family of the ‘real presence’ of God in His Word. Prayer time needs to be able to engage as many of our senses as possible. The burning of some fragrant oil also can evoke in the minds of your family, ‘prayer time’. Someone in the family might like to be the leader of the intercessions, then other family members can share the prayers….everyone can be invited to join is spontaneous shared prayer…
Leader: Recognising God’s constant care for us, we are confident that God will hear these, our prayers.
That the Church be a herald of the presence of God through a fruitful ministry of forgiveness and mercy.
That all peoples of the world repent of sinfulness and turn to their God for forgiveness and mercy.
That political prisoners and those who are imprisoned by their own sinfulness be set free.
That each of us here today take sufficient time to be mindful of what God is asking of us in order to be faithful to the way of salvation.
Leader: Saving God, you are merciful and forgiving: hear these our prayers that one day we might dwell with you in everlasting glory. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Blessing is taken from the Iona Abbey Sacramentary, Scotland.
Iona Abbey is located on the Isle of Iona, just off the Isle of Mull on the West Coast of Scotland. It is one of the oldest and most important religious centres in Western Europe. The abbey was a focal point for the spread of Christianity throughout Scotland and marks the foundation of a monastic community by St. Columba, when Iona was part of the Kingdom of Dál Riata.
1. The Cross
ALL WE SHALL TAKE IT.
2. The bread……………
ALL WE SHALL BREAK IT.
3. The pain
ALL WE SHALL BEAR IT.
4. The joy………………
ALL WE SHALL SHARE IT.
5. The Gospel……………
ALL WE SHALL LIVE IT.
6. The love…………
ALL WE SHALL GIVE IT.
7. The light……………
ALL WE SHALL CHERISH IT.
8. The darkness…………….
ALL WE SHALL PERISH IT. Amen.